Amazing as it sounds we could be on the verge of enjoying a whole new portable electronics experience, where wall chargers are a thing of the past and every device can keep working indefinitely purely through the power of the sun or a standard light bulb. No, it’s not science fiction, this is the exciting promise of a new photovoltaic technology which is being developed in France right now.
Wysips Crystal, developed by French technology company Sunpartners, is a thin film solar panel which slots neatly in between the touchscreen elements on a phone or tablet to deliver a constant trickle charge when exposed to light from just about any source.
The thin transparent sheet transmits 90% of the available light through the panel, which means your phone will still be as clear and bright as usual, and crucially the touchscreen will also work perfectly. The only difference will be that the phone will be able to generate its own power from a nearby desk lamp or from the sun coming in through the window.
The idea of having electronics which are unshackled from the burden of batteries and chargers is the one goal which has eluded the researchers for decades now, but it looks like it may be a possibility at last, if this new technology works as promised. The technology is currently being tested by Chinese giant TCL Communications who make the Alcatel brand of smartphones, and there are apparently two other major manufacturers looking at the process at the time of writing.
The Wysips (what you see is photovoltaic surface) screens is a mere 500 microns thick and can generate 2.5mW / cm2 in sunlight, giving the user two to four extra minutes of communication time for every 10 minutes of exposure with a 3.7 inch screen area. The company hopes to improve these figures significantly over the coming months, and have managed to secure a large amount of investment to aid their research to do just that.
We’re not sure about the science behind this seemingly miraculous ‘lenticular‘ technology, but if anyone can free us from all these cables and the angst caused by running out of juice mid-call, they’ll be our friends for life. Really.